Dr. Quilter reviewed the prehistory of Costa Rica and its relation to
Pre-Columbian cultures before describing the archaeological research he
directed at the Rivas Site in southern Costa Rica from 1992 through 1998.
Although the Chiriquí culture has been known since the late nineteenth
century, few extensive excavation projects have been carried out at sites in
a region that stretches from western Panama to southern Costa Rica.
Although graves at the site had been looted of gold objects many years ago,
Dr. Quilter's research at Rivas has uncovered a hitherto-unsuspected large
Chiriquí ceremonial complex. The fact that high-status graves outnumbered
low-status ones and that the area yielded few of the food preparation
artifacts of other sites suggests that it was a specialized mortuary ritual
center. This research has helped clarify the role of gold objects,
distinctive pottery styles, and other high-status goods known in the region
but previously lacking cultural context. .
Dr. Quilter taught at Ripon College, Wisconsin, for 15 years, and in 1995 he
became Director of Pre-Columbian Studies and Curator of the Pre-Columbian
Collection at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections in
Washington, D.C. He has received awards and grants from the NSF, the
National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Geographic Society, and
the Wenner -Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. He is finishing a
book on the Rivas site.
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